With the way society has been progressing, the tech industry is definitely not a “man’s job” anymore. Women have always played vital roles in every sector, and now, we see more of them diving into tech. It’s quite amazing! In celebration of international women’s month, we’ll talk about 11 famous women in tech, and how they have made an impact in the tech and IT industry.
1. Ada Lovelace
Ada was the world’s first female computer programmer, who from her early life showed her mathematical talent and interest in machines. She was renowned for her work in 1842 when she wrote the first-ever algorithm for processing numbers. From this, a computer language named ADA was created in honor of her. ADA remains a modern programming language that is used for large, long-lived applications and traditional domains of avionics, aerospace, transportation, and defense. It has made major contributions in safety which has been an asset that has been essentially important for security.
With its embodiment of modern software engineering principles, Ada Programming Language is an excellent teaching language for both introductory and advanced computer science courses, and it has been the subject of significance, especially in the area of real-time technologies.
2. Katherine Johnson
Katherine Johnson was an American mathematician whose orbital mechanics calculations helped NASA send astronauts to the moon and back here on earth. Within her 35-year career at NASA, she mastered complex manual calculations and used computers to perform the tasks like figuring out the difficult calculations needed for spaceflight. In 1969, she calculated the trajectories of Neil Armstrong’s historic mission to the moon on Apollo 11, but it wasn’t until the release of the movie Hidden Figures in 2016 that she gained popular recognition. She is now one of the celebrated women in tech.3. Susan Kare
Susan Kare is a user interface and icon designer who joined Apple in 1982 and worked alongside Steve Jobs to create Apple’s common interface elements, which we still use today. She’s also one of the women in tech responsible for creating the digital fonts and screen graphics for the Macintosh computer. Her graphic design skills gave us typefaces such as Geneva and Chicago, and she was also the one who came up with the command key symbol on your keyboard.
3. Grace Hopper
Grace Hopper was a U.S. Navy rear admiral and an esteemed computer language programmer. She stands out in the list of women in tech by developing a compiler used for one of the first computer programming languages, COBOL while working on the Harvard Mark I – which was an early prototype of the electronic computer. Today, COBOL is widely used in business and finance. Hopper also wrote a 500-page operations manual where she outlined the fundamental operating principles of computing machines. Additionally, she was the one that coined the term debug, which refers to fixing computer problems. With the career accomplishments, Graces’ legacy is to encourage young women to learn how to program and code.
4. Radia Perlman
Radia Perlman is an American computer network engineer and software designer, who was the developer and brains behind the spanning-tree protocol (STP). Her STP algorithm invention was the instrument used to make today’s internet possible through the massive network of ethernet. She made sure her work incorporated the basic internet traffic rules while ensuring that networks systems remained configured to deliver the correct data when a user requested it.
As one of the celebrated names in women in tech, she also developed algorithms to link protocols and routing IP technologies that we use today. As an advocate for simplicity, she co authored Network Security – a book that shows her contribution to network security, which includes trust models for Public Key Infrastructure, data expirations, and distributed algorithms.
5. Margaret Hamilton
Margaret Hamilton is an American computer scientist who was one of the first computer software engineers and one of the celebrated women in tech. Leading the software engineering division at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Instrumentation Laboratory in the late ’60s, she wrote computer code for the command and lunar modules used on the six Apollo landing missions to the moon. She was one of the first women in tech to set the foundation for modern, ultra-reliable software design and engineering.
6. Debbie Sterling
Debbie Steinberg is the inventor and CEO behind GoldieBlox after realizing that 13% of engineers are women while the rest are men. She invented a construction set to serve as a motivation and imagination boost for young girls, to bolster their tech skills and dive more into construction and building. Her goal is that in years to come, the staggering gap between female and male future engineers and innovators will reduce.
7. Hedy Lamarr
This famous actress and self-taught inventor was the pioneer of wireless technologies that we enjoy today. While working with George Antheil, she developed a secret communication system with frequency hopping technology to serve as a radio guidance system for torpedoes during the war. Her ideas eventually inspired fore-running technology like Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth technology commonly used today.
8. Annie Easley
As one of the famous black women in tech, specifically in data science, Annie was a NASA rocket scientist and an activist for gender and racial diversity in the IT industry. She contributed to many programs as a computer scientist and started her career as a human computer, while she did computations and analysis of problems via calculations by hand.
Aside from that, while technology was evolving, she became flexible and learned computer programming, using languages like Fortran and the Symbolic Optimal Assembly Program (SOAP) to develop codes in energy-conversion systems, power and battery technology, and a couple of NASA’s programs. She has inspired many through her enthusiastic participation in outreach programs and broken down barriers as an equal employment opportunity counselor.
9. Karen Sparck-Jones
Another famous woman in IT is Karen Sparck-Jones, who was a pioneer in information science. She developed the Inverse Document Frequency (IDF) – a weighting factor used to check how important a word is to a document and how conventional the word is in web search engines. This technology also underlines how we use modern search engines to rank a document’s relevance to a search query.
Her work has been in automatic language and information processing research relating to speech applications, database query, user and agent modeling, summarizing, and information and language system evaluation. In essence, Karen played a lead role in the field of information retrieval, as today search engines rely on the fundamental research she carried out from the 1960s
10. Elizabeth Feiler
Elizabeth is another reputable woman in the list of women in tech who developed and managed first the ARPANET, Defense Data Network (DDN), and network information centers (NIC). And all these early networks are the backbone of today’s Internet. She and her team were the first to publish resources and directories for the Internet, and develop them into the first Internet “yellow-page”, and “white-page” servers. She also made the first query-based network hostname and address (WHOIS) server that enabled the top-level domain-naming scheme of .com, .edu, .gov, .mil, .org, and .net, which are still in use today.
As society continues to head towards this progressive direction, more women will be exposed to opportunities in technology. This industry offers a unique experience – flexibility, remote working, and adaptability. With this, women in tech today have advanced government IT systems, created special effects that populate top box office movies, and devised laptop computer developments that enable work from home and bring-your-own-device environments.
Although the gender gap in IT and tech fields are still prominent, it’s rewarding to see how much of a difference women can make with the right attitude.
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